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Panama and China concluded today in the Panamanian capital the Fourth Round of Negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) with "approaches" in the chapters of Rules of Origin, Customs Procedures, Market Access and Trade in Services, said the Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MICI).
Alberto Alemán Arias, Panamanian Chief Negotiator, explained that conversations were achieved in terms of rules of origin, customs procedures, market access, financial services, investments, trade in services and cooperation.
The negotiation teams of the Rules of Origin, Customs Procedures and Market Access tables visited the Colón Free Zone (ZLC), where they could see the operations of the logistics platform of this free zone, the second largest in the world after Hong Kong.
"This visit allowed our counterpart to understand on site and more broadly, the benefits of the re-export certificate for both parties as a way to exchange products from Latin America to China and vice versa, using Panama as a hub for value-added industries and redistribution," explained Alemán Arias.
In market access, he noted that Panama is satisfied with the progress of its positions and the effective articulation of the interests of the private sector that encompasses this negotiation for a commercial agreement with multiple benefits.
In this issue, Panama will continue to negotiate with China to obtain important openings for those products with the greatest potential to enter the Asian market, together with the effort to ensure protection for those sensitive to primary production and national industry.
Alemán Arias reiterated that as with the FTAs that Panama has in force, the possible trade agreement with China does not affect in any of its chapters the labor legislation and special regimes of Panamanian professionals.
"Any investment that is registered in Panama with the agreement as a framework has to comply with our national legislations," he said.
"We have important pending issues that will continue to be developed in future rounds of negotiations," said the chief negotiator, reiterating that negotiations are being held without stipulated times and in-depth review of each issue, until the best agreement for Panama is reached.
The Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade, Néstor González, stressed that, as in previous years, in this Fourth Round the participation of the Panamanian private sector in the Fourth point, especially enabled to promote participation and interaction of the private sector with the negotiating team, remained very active.
"In the fourth round there was an important participation of the actors of the productive, agricultural, agro industrial, industrial, commercial and service sectors, with whom a permanent interaction was maintained to advance the interests agreed with them, and in this regard they were given a daily report of the progress of the negotiations," he said.
Panama and China established full diplomatic relations in June last year to the detriment of Taiwan, considered a rebel province by Beijing.